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Falcons to compete in softball tourney

Salisbury softball coach Jeff Appleman is used to being busy in the spring and summer. In the spring his attention is on the Salisbury varsity team and in summer he’s coached tournament teams for a number of years. As luck would have it, this is the first summer that he chose not to coach a tournament team, which combined with the cancellation of the high school softball season, left Appleman with a lot of extra time on his hands. It also left him with a lot of time to miss coaching.

Then came the plan for a softball tournament using varsity rosters from area high schools. Michele Laubach, the head coach of the Freedom softball team played a big role in putting together the tournament. It will be held July 14-16 with preliminary rounds being played at Bethlehem’s Northwest Little League Fields with teams from both the East Penn Conference and Colonial Leagues competing against each other.

With the exception of the rosters, which will resemble what the rosters of local high school teams would have been this past spring, the tournament has no connection to local high schools or the PIAA. Laubach worked to get sponsors who would provide t-shirts for the players and to get insurance for the players who compete.

“I thought it was a great idea the minute I heard about it,” said Salisbury coach Jeff Appelman. “We only have one senior [Emily Silberman] and I told her that if she wanted to play, we would put a team together. She was definitely in and when I talked to the other players, they liked the idea, but some of them are playing on tournament teams and might not be available.”

The loss of the season was especially difficult for Silberman, who finished her high school career with 96 hits, just four shy of the 100-hit milestone. She also missed the opportunity to reach other milestones and school records both offensively and as a pitcher. Since the tournament is not sanctioned by the PIAA, the statistics from the games won’t count toward any statistics that the players have accumulated from their high school careers.

“Emily is possibly one of the best ever at Salisbury,” said Applemen. “She’s very good and had a shot at a number of records, so to miss that was disappointing. We knew we would have a young team because we lost a number of players, but with her on the mound, we also knew we had a shot at being a good team. That’s kind of the same approach I’m taking going into this tournament.”

Salisbury opens the tournament on Tuesday against Liberty and then turns right around and plays Colonial League foe Wilson on the same day.

“Those are both very tough games because Liberty is one of the bigger schools in the Lehigh Valley and Wilson has a couple of Division 1 players on their team,” said Appleman.

Appleman found it difficult to tell his players when the season was officially shutdown, but was happy to tell them about the tournament.

“A lot of our girls play tournament softball and they’re starting to get their seasons going but some of the girls don’t have that opportunity,” Appleman said. “It’s going to be good to get back together at least for a couple of games and have Emily play with her teammates again and just salvage what we can.”

In addition to the games, organizers are also planning a salute to the players who would have been seniors during the high school season. The full schedule and final details are being ironed out. One of the question marks is whether the teams will have an opportunity to practice because of issues surrounding insurance. Appleman said those things will be ironed out with details being given to coaches.

“We’re not sure of all of the details,” admitted Appleman. “But the fact that this is all coming together is exciting.”

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZSalisbury softball coach Jeff Appleman (left) is happy that senior Emily Silberman (right) will get to take the field with her Falcon teammates for a tournament next week.